02 Dec Tower & Stockade Operation: Building Where Prophets Walked
Tower and Stockade is the name of an operation that the leaders of the pre-state Jewish community in the Land of Israel initiated during the British mandate period in the country. During this time 52 new settlements were founded. The operation was a response to the 1936-1939 Arab revolt and the restrictions the British mandatory authorities placed, both on the building of new Jewish settlements and on the amount of Jewish immigrants allowed into the country.
The building of each settlement began at night. First, a guard tower and defense stockade (wall) were set up, using prefabricated wooden frameworks – hence the name Tower and Stockade operation. The method was based on an old Ottoman law that was still valid during the British mandate period: the destroying of a building was not allowed after a roof had been erected. For this reason, the British did not destroy the Tower and Stockade settlements even though they had not received building permits. The equipment needed for building was organized in advance, which allowed for their quick building.
During the 1936-39 Arab revolt, these settlements provided safe havens on land that had been officially purchased by the Jewish National Fund. They protected Jewish populations, particularly in remote areas, on these Jewish-owned lands and maintained facts on the ground. These outposts would eventually be transformed into fortified agricultural settlements (kibbutzim and moshavim) and served for security purposes against Arab raiders as well as creating contiguous, fortified Jewish-populated regions during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
One of the communities erected as part of the Tower and Stockade movement was Kibbutz Mesilot, established on December 22, 1938 and located in the Beit She’an Valley in the north of Israel. Mesilot is the home of Wire Ropes Works Messilot Ltd., one of the largest producers of wire rope in Israel and the Middle East. The kibbutz also engages in various forms of agriculture, including livestock, a fishery, an orchard, olive and date plantations, and other vegetables.